The Vendy Awards is the annual street food competition giving attendees the opportunity to sample from NYC’s best street food vendors. Many of NYC’s most famous carts and trucks first made their name at the Vendys, and this year will be no exception. Twenty-five finalists will compete and the winners are chosen by attendees and a panel of well-renowned judges. A 5th #citizenjudge will join this year’s panel, which includes:
King Phojanakong (@kumainn_uminom) is at the forefront of the burgeoning Filipino food movement. He is the chef-owner of Kuma Inn in New York City, the creator of Small Axe Peppers Hot Sauce and a culinary instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. King is a New York native whose culinary influences began at home with the inspirational cooking of his Filipino mother and Thai father. Childhood summers spent in the Philippines furthered his interest in the culinary world and instilled the importance of community and culture.
Upon graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, King worked with Alex Lee and Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel and was part of the opening team of David Bouley’s Danube. King opened Kuma Inn in New York’s Lower East Side in 2003 to critical and popular acclaim. He has been featured in television programs including Cutthroat Kitchen, The Rachael Ray Show, King in the Garden, Selling New York and Mike Colameco’s Real Food. (New York, NY)
Nathan Thornburgh is an Emmy-winning writer, publisher and producer. After a decade as a foreign correspondent and editor at Time Magazine, he co-founded Roads & Kingdoms with Matt Goulding, and continued to run the media company after Anthony Bourdain joined as investor and editor-at-large. Besides leading R&K, he is the host of the Luminary exclusive podcast The Trip: Drinking with Exceptional People Around the World. He is currently obsessed with hunting and eating iguanas, and welcomes all your best curry recipes for that purpose.
Niki Russ Federman was pretty much born in a herring barrel, with a sharp knife in her hand and a penchant for caviar. Educated at Amherst College, Niki worked in a variety of professions — from the art world to international development — before realizing that her appetite was fulfilled by continuing her family’s 105-year-old culinary legacy at Russ & Daughters: the landmark appetizing shop known for the best bagels, lox, caviar, herring, babka and other traditional baked goods and smoked fish. Today, along with her cousin Josh Russ Tupper, she is the 4th generation to own and run Russ & Daughters, Russ & Daughters Cafe, Russ & Daughters at the Jewish Museum, and Russ & Daughters at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Niki appears frequently in a variety of media, including The New York Times, NPR, Food Network, The New Yorker, Martha Stewart, Travel Channel, and Vogue. She is also one of the subjects of The Sturgeon Queens, a PBS documentary about Russ & Daughters. Niki is a board member of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District and Chair of the Friends of the Educational Alliance. She is fluent in several languages, but alas, Yiddish is not one of them. In 2016, Niki was named one of Crain’s New York Business’ “40 Under 40.”